KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Olympic president Thomas Bach has reiterated his message of confidence in the rescheduled Games going ahead as planned in Tokyo in July and August.

Bach, recently re-elected at the head of the International Olympic Committee, is keep an undisturbed focus on the Games amid continuing concern in Japan itself about the country’s ability to cope with the Games and the pandemic simultaneously. Bach was speaking at the opening of the virtual annual congress of world football federation FIFA.

He said: “When the Olympic Games get under way it will send a powerful message, it will send a light at the end of the tunnel we are in because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Football will play a special role because the Olympic football tournament begins a few days before the Opening Ceremony so football will be sending the first light at the end of the tunnel from Japan to billions of people around the world.

“Thankyou [to FIFA] for demonstrating in a great way that we are always stronger together. This is the lesson we have learned from the coronavirus crisis. We need more solidarity.

“Your congress is a timely opportunity to set the course for a future where sport and athletes everywhere can contribute towards building a more inclusive society.”

FIFA president Gianni Infantino responded with a similar vote of confidence in the Games.

He said: “The Olympic Games give people a distraction, hope and joy so  we are fully supportive of the Olympic Games in Tokyo being played in a safe and secure environment.

“We know this will involve certain restrictions, we are not happy with them but we will comply and we know that, with the start of the Games, the polemics will stop.”